Philosophy and Salvation in Greek Religion


Ed. by Adluri, Vishwa


Ever since Vlastos’ “Theology and Philosophy in Early Greek Thought,” scholars have known that a consideration of ancient philosophy without attention to its theological, cosmological and soteriological dimensions remains onesided. Yet, philosophers continue to discuss thinkers such as Parmenides and Plato without knowledge of their debt to the archaic religious traditions. Perhaps our own religious prejudices allow us to see only a “polis religion” in Greek religion, while our modern philosophical openness and emphasis on reason induce us to rehabilitate ancient philosophy by what we consider the highest standard of knowledge: proper argumentation. Yet, it is possible to see ancient philosophy as operating according to a different system of meaning, a different “logic.” Such a different sense of logic operates in myth and other narratives, where the argument is neither completely illogical nor rational in the positivist sense. The articles in this volume undertake a critical engagement with this unspoken legacy of Greek religion. The aim of the volume as a whole is to show how, beyond the formalities and fallacies of arguments, something more profound is at stake in ancient philosophy: the salvation of the philosopher-initiate.


(Text by the editor)




Vishwa Adluri – Philosophy, Salvation, and the Mortal Condition

Miguel Herrero de Juregui – Salvation for the Wanderer: Odysseus, the Gold Leaves, and Empedocles

Arbogast Schmitt – Self-Determination and Freedom: The Relationship of God and Man in Homer. Translated by Joydeep Bagchee

Walter Burkert – Parmenides’ Proem and Pythagoras’ Descent. Translated by Joydeep Bagchee

Alberto Bernabé – Ὁ Πλάτων παρωιδεῖ τὰ Ὀρφέως Plato’s Transposition of Orphic Netherworld Imagery

Barbara Sattler – The Eleusinian Mysteries in Pre-Platonic Thought: Metaphor, Practice and Imagery for Plato’s Symposium

Stephen Menn – Plato’s Soteriology ?

Vishwa Adluri & John Lenz – From Politics to Salvation through Philosophy: Herodotus’ Histories and Plato’s Republic

John Bussanich – Rebirth Eschatology in Plato and Plotinus

Luc Brisson – Memory and the Soul’s Destiny in Plotinus. Translated by Michael Chase

Svetla Slaveva-Griffin – Between the Two Realms: Plotinus’ Pure Soul

John Finamore – Iamblichus, Theurgy, and the Soul’s Ascent

About the Contributors


Index of terms

Mystical Monotheism: A Study in Ancient Platonic Theology


John Peter Kenney, 2010


In this engaging and provocative study, John Peter Kenney examines the emergence of monotheism within Greco-Roman philosophical theology by tracing the changing character of ancient realism from Plato through Plotinus. Besides acknowledging the philosophical and theological significance of such ancient thinkers as Plutarch, Numenius, Alcinous, and Atticus, he demonstrates the central importance of Plotinus in clarifying the relation of the intelligible world to divinity. Kenney focuses especially on Plotinus’s novel concept of deity, arguing that it constitutes a type of mystical monotheism based upon an ultimate and inclusive divine One beyond description or discursive knowledge.

Presenting difficult material with grace and clarity, Kenney takes a wide-ranging view of the development of ancient Platonic theology from a philosophical perspective and synthesizes familiar elements in a new way. His is a revisionist thesis with significant implications for the study of Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian thought in this period and for the history of Western religious thought in general.

(Text by the author)


Table of Contents




I The Foundations of Hellenic Monotheism

1 Degrees of Reality

2 Divine Ideas

3 The Emergence of Hellenic Monotheism

4 The Demiurgic Theology of Plutarch

5 Early Platonic Theism


II The Demotion of the Demiurge

1 Numenius and the Degrees of Divinity

2 The Didaskalikos of Alcinous

3 The Exemplarism of the Athenian School

4 Middle Platonic Theology


III The Mystical Monotheism of Plotinus

1 Divine Simplicity

2 Intellect and Ideas

3 Hid Divinity


Conclusion: Mystical Monotheism




Religion in the Ancient Greek City 


Louise Bruit Zaidman  (Author), Pauline Schmitt Pantel (Author), Paul Cartledge (Translator), 2000


This book is an English translation of the French work La Religion Grecque. Its purpose is to consider how religious beliefs and cultic rituals were given expression in ancient Greece. The chapters cover first ritual and then myth, rooting the account in the practices of the classical city while also taking seriously the world of the imagination. For this edition the bibliography has been substantially revised to meet the needs of a mainly student, English-speaking readership. The book is enriched throughout by illustrations, and by quotations from original sources.

(Text by the authors)



List of illustrations

Author’s preface to the English translation

Translator’s introduction

List of sources

PART I – Introduction: How should we study Greek civic religion?

1 – The necessity of cultural estrangement

2 – Some fundamental notions

3 – Sources of evidence

PART II – Cult-practices

4 – Rituals

5 – Religious personnel

6 – Places of cult

7 – Rites of passage

8 – Settings of religious life

9 – Religion and political life

10 – The festival system: the Athenian case

11 – The Panhellenic cults

PART III – Systems for representing the divine

12 – Myths and mythology

13 – A polytheistic religion

14 – Forms of imaginative projection

PART IV – Envoi

15 – Concluding reflections


I – The classical Greek temple

II – The monuments of the Athenian Akropolis



Greek Thought

A Guide to Classical Knowledge


Edited by Jacques Brunschwig and Geoffrey E. R. Lloyd; Translated by Catherine Porter, 2000


Ancient Greek thought is the essential wellspring from which the intellectual, ethical, and political civilization of the West draws and to which, even today, we repeatedly return. In more than sixty essays by an international team of scholars, this volume explores the full breadth and reach of Greek thought — investigating what the Greeks knew as well as what they thought about what they knew, and what they believed, invented, and understood about the conditions and possibilities of knowing. Calling attention to the characteristic reflexivity of Greek thought, the analysis in this book reminds us of what our own reflections owe to theirs.

In sections devoted to philosophy, politics, the pursuit of knowledge, major thinkers, and schools of thought, this work shows us the Greeks looking at themselves, establishing the terms for understanding life, language, production, and action. The authors evoke not history, but the stories the Greeks told themselves about history; not their poetry, but their poetics; not their speeches, but their rhetoric. Essays that survey political, scientific, and philosophical ideas, such as those on Utopia and the Critique of Politics, Observation and Research, and Ethics; others on specific fields from Astronomy and History to Mathematics and Medicine; new perspectives on major figures, from Anaxagoras to Zeno of Elea; studies of core traditions from the Milesians to the various versions of Platonism: together these offer a sense of the unquenchable thirst for knowledge that marked Greek civilization—and that Aristotle considered a natural and universal trait of humankind. With thirty-two pages of color illustrations, this work conveys the splendor and vitality of the Greek intellectual adventure.

(Text by the editors)




Translators’ Note

Introduction: On Home Ground in a Distant Land



The Philosopher

Images of the World

Myth and Knowledge

The Question of Being




The Statesman As Political Actor

Inventing Politics

Utopia and the Critique of Politics

The Sage and Politics

The Pursuit of Knowledge

Schools and Sites of Learning

Observation and Research

Demonstration and the Idea of Science














Theology and Divination

Theories of Religion

Major Figures
























Currents of Thought

The Academy



Hellenism and Christianity

Hellenism and Judaism

The Milesians








Illustration Sources


Ancient Mediterranean Philosophy. An Introduction


Stephen Clark, 2013


Although the Greeks were responsible for the first systematic philosophy of which we have any record, they were not alone in the Mediterranean world and were happy to draw inspiration from other traditions; traditions that are now largely neglected by philosophers and scholars. This book tells the story of ‘Greek Philosophy’, paying due attention to its historical context and the contributions made by Egyptians, Hebrews, Persians and even barbarians from northern Europe. Stephen Clark provides a narrative history of the philosophical traditions that took shape over several centuries in the Mediterranean world and offers a comprehensive survey of this crucial period in the history of philosophy.

The book includes a thorough historical and philosophical overview of all the key thinkers, events and ideas that characterized the period and explores in detail central themes such as the contest of gods and giants, the contrast between the reality and appearance, and the idea of the philosopher. Ideal for undergraduate students, this concise and accessible book provides a comprehensive guide to a fascinating period in the history of philosophy.

(Text by the author)


Table of contents





1. Beginnings

2. Influence from Outside

3. Inspired Thinkers

4. Travellers and Stay-at-Homes

5. Divine Plato

6. The Aristotelian Synthesis

7. Living the Philosophical Life

8. Ordinary and Supernatural Lives

9. Late Antiquity

10. An End and a Beginning


Recommended Reading

Works Cited


Christians, Gnostics and Philosophers in Late Antiquity


Mark Edwards, 2012


Gnosticism, Christianity and late antique philosophy are often studied separately; when studied together they are too often conflated. These articles set out to show that we misunderstand all three phenomena if we take either approach. We cannot interpret, or even identify, Christian Gnosticism without Platonic evidence; we may even discover that Gnosticism throws unexpected light on the Platonic imagination. At the same time, if we read writers like Origen simply as Christian Platonists, or bring Christians and philosophers together under the porous umbrella of « monotheism », we ignore fundamental features of both traditions. To grasp what made Christianity distinctive, we must look at the questions asked in the studies here, not merely what Christians appropriated but how it was appropriated. What did the pagan gods mean to a Christian poet of the fifth century? What did Paul quote when he thought he was quoting Greek poetry? What did Socrates mean to the Christians, and can we trust their memories when they appeal to lost fragments of the Presocratics? When pagans accuse the Christians of moral turpitude, do they know more or less about them than we do? What divides Augustine, the disenchanted Platonist, from his Neoplatonic contemporaries? And what God or gods await the Neoplatonist when he dies?

(Text by the author)





Part I Christians and Pagans in Dispute: Quoting Aratus: Acts 17.28

Some early Christian immoralities

Justin’s logos and the word of God

Satire and verisimilitude: Christianity in Lucian’s Peregrinus

Xenophanes Christianus?

Pagan and Christian monotheism in the age of Constantine

Notes on the date and venue of the Oration to the Saints

Dracontius the African and the fate of Rome.

Part II Gnostic Thought and its Milieu: Gnostics and Valentians in the church fathers

Neglected texts in the study of Gnosticism

Pauline Platonism: the myth of Valentinus

The tale of Cupid and Psyche

Porphyry’s Cave of the Nymphs and the Gnostic controversy

Part III Christianity and the Platonic Tradition: Socrates and the early Church’ Origen’s Platonism: questions and caveats

Ammonius, teacher of Origen

Birth, death and divinity in Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus

Porphyry and the intelligible triad

The figure of love in Augustine and in Proclus the neoplatonist


Dreams as Divine Communication in Christianity: From Hermas to Aquinas


Series : Studies in the History and Anthropology of Religion, 3

Editor : Koet B.J., 2012


In the book presented here, one encounters dreams and visions from the history of Christianity. Faculty members of the Tilburg School of Theology (TST; Tilburg University, The Netherlands) and other (Dutch and Flemish) experts in theology, Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages present a collection of articles examining the phenomenon of dreaming in the Christian realm from the first to the thirteenth century. Their aim is to investigate the dream world of Christians as a source of historical theology and spirituality. They try to show and explain the importance and function of dreams in the context of the texts discussed, meanwhile making these texts accessible and understandable to the people of today. By contextualizing those dreams in their own historical imagery, the authors want to give the reader some insight into the fascinating dream world of the past, which in turn will inspire him or her to consider the dream world of today.

(Text by the editor)




Notes on Contributors

B.J. KOET, Introducing Dreaming from Hermas to Aquinas

J. VERHEYDEN AND M. GRUNDEKEN, The Spirit Before the Letter: Dreams and Visions as the Legitimation of the Shepherd of Hermas. A Study of Vision

K. DE BRABANDER, Tertullian’s Theory of Dreams (De anima 45-49): Some Observations towards a Better Understanding

V. HUNINK, ‘With the Taste of Something Sweet Still in my Mouth’: Perpetua’s Visions

B.J. KOET, Jerome’s and Augustine’s Conversion to Scripture through the Portal of Dreams (Ep. 22 and Conf. 3 and 8)

G. DE NIE, ‘A Smiling Serene Face’: Face-to-Face Encounters in Early Christian Dream Visions

A. SMEETS, The Dazzle of Dawn: Visions, Dreams and Thoughts on Dreams by Gregory the Great

W. VERBAAL, Mysteria somniorum: Bernard of Clairvaux and the Pedagogic of Dreaming

K. PANSTERS, Franciscus somnians: Dreams in Late Medieval Franciscan Biography

G.P. FREEMAN, Clare of Assisi’s Vision of Francis: On the Interpretation of a Remarkable Vision

H. GORIS, Thomas Aquinas on Dreams

List of Abbreviations

Index of names, subjects and passages

Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety

Some Aspects of Religious Experience from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine


E. R. Dodds, 1965


Interest in the world of Late Antiquity is currently undergoing a significant revival, and in this provocative book, now reissued in paperback, E. R. Dodds anticipated some of the themes now engaging scholars. There is abundant material for the study of religious experience in late antiquity, and through it Professor Dodds examines, from a sociological and psychological standpoint, the personal religious attitudes and experiences common to pagans and Christians in the period between Marcus Aurelius and Constantine. He looks first at general attitudes to the world and the human condition before turning to specific types of human experience. World-hatred and asceticism, dreams and states of possession, and pagan and Christian mysticism are all discussed. Finally Dodds considers both pagan views of Christianity and Christian views of paganism as they emerge in the literature of the time. Although primarily written for social and religious historians, this study will also appeal to all those interested in the ancient world and its thought.

(Text by the author)














Rethinking the Gods: Philosophical Readings of Religion in the Post-Hellenistic Period

Peter van Nuffelen , 2011


Ancient philosophers had always been fascinated by religion. From the first century BC onwards, the traditionally more hostile attitude of Greek and Roman philosophy was abandoned in favour of the view that religion was a source of philosophical knowledge. This book studies that change, not from the perspective of the history of religion, as is usual, but understands it as part of the wider tendency of Post-Hellenistic philosophy to open up to external, non-philosophical sources of knowledge and authority. It situates two key themes, ancient wisdom and cosmic hierarchy, in the context of Post-Hellenistic philosophy and traces their reconfigurations in contemporary literature and in the polemic between Jews, Christians and pagans. Overall, Post-Hellenistic philosophy can be seen to have a relatively high degree of unity in its ideas on religion, which should not be reduced to a preparation for Neo-Platonism.


Table of Contents


Part I. Ancient Wisdom

  1. Tracing the origins: ancients, philosophers, and mystery cults;
  2. Plutarch of Chaeronea: ‘History as a basis for a philosophy that has theology as its end’;
  3. Numenius: philosophy as a hidden mystery;
  4. Dio Chrysostom, Apuleius and the rhetoric of ancient wisdom;

Part II. Cosmic Hierarchy

  1. Towards the pantheon as the paradigm of order;
  2. The Great King of Persia and his satraps: ideal and ideology;
  3. Dio Chrysostom: virtue and structure in the Kingship Orations;
  4. Plutarch: a benevolent hierarchy of gods and men;

Part III. Polemic and Prejudice: Challenging the Discourse

  1. Lucian, Epicureanism and strategies of satire;
  2. Philo of Alexandria: challenging Greco-Roman culture;
  3. Celsus and Christian superstition;


The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies


de George Boys-Stones (Sous la direction de), Barbara Graziosi (Sous la direction de), Phiroze Vasunia  (Sous la direction de)


The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies is a unique collection of some seventy articles which together explore the ways in which ancient Greece has been, is, and might be studied. It is intended to inform its readers, but also, importantly, to inspire them, and to enable them to pursue their own research by introducing the primary resources and exploring the latest agenda for their study. The emphasis is on the breadth and potential of Hellenic Studies as a flourishing and exciting intellectual arena, and also upon its relevance to the way we think about ourselves today. The book provides comprehensive guidance in areas such as epigraphy, numismatics, and manuscript studies.

(Text by the editors)




Front Matter

The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies



List of Contributors



Part I – Hellenes and Hellenisms


Hellenism and Modernity – James I. Porter

Indigenous Hellenisms/Indigenous Modernities: Classical Antiquity, Materiality, and Modern Greek Society – Yannis Hamilakis

Near Eastern Perspectives on the Greeks – Robert Rollinger

Colonies and Colonization – De Angelis Franco

The Athenian Empire – Low Polly

Alexander the Great – Briant Pierre

Hellenistic Culture – Susan Stephens

Roman Perspectives on the Greeks – Barchiesi Alessandro

Greece and Rome – Whitmarsh Tim

Hebraism and Hellenism – Gruen Erich S.

The Greek Heritage in Islam – Strohmaier Gotthard

Hellenism in the Renaissance – Celenza Christopher S.

Hellenism in the Enlightenment – Cartledge Paul

Ideologies of Hellenism – Canfora Luciano


Part II – The Polis


The Polis – Redfield James

Civic Institutions – Forsdyke Sara

Economy and Trade – Von Reden Sitta

War and Society – Hunt Peter

Urban Landscape and Architecture – Osborne Robin

The City as Memory – Ma John

Ancient Concepts of Personal Identity – Gill Christopher

The Politics of the Sumposion – Hobden Fiona

Coming of Age, Peer Groups, and Rites of Passage – Calame Claude

Friendship, Love, and Marriage – Cantarella Eva

Sexuality and Gender – McClure Laura

Slavery – Dubois Page

Ethnic Prejudice and Racism – Isaac Benjamin

Maritime Identities – Ayodeji Kim

Travel and Travel Writing – Pretzler Maria

Religion – Kindt Julia

Games and Festivals – König Jason

Just Visiting: The Mobile World of Classical Athens – Dougherty Carol

Greek Political Theory – Rowe Christopher


Part III – Performance and Texts


Performance and Text in Ancient Greece – Nagy Gregory

Books and Literacy – Rösler Wolfgang

Epic Poetry – Haubold Johannes

Lyric Poetry – Capra Andrea

Tragedy – Taplin Oliver

Comedy – Konstan David

Historiography – Dewald Carolyn

Oratory – Rubinstein Lene

Low Philosophy – Desmond William D.

High Philosophy – Baltzly Dirk

Magic – Collins Derek

Medicine – Holmes Brooke

Music – Rocconi Eleonora

The Exact Sciences – Netz Reviel

Hellenistic Poetry – Sens Alexander

Biography – Pelling Christopher

The Novel – Nimis Stephen A.

Performance, Text, and the History of Criticism – Ford Andrew L.


Part IV – Methods and Approaches


Comparative Approaches to the Study of Culture – Lloyd G. E. R.

Postcolonialism – Greenwood Emily

Demography and Sociology – Scheidel Walter

Myth, Mythology, and Mythography – Bremmer Jan N.

Gender Studies – Skinner Marilyn B.

Comparative Philology and Linguistics – Probert Philomen

Epigraphy – Rhodes P. J.

Archaeology – Whitley James

Numismatics – Meadows Andrew

Manuscript Studies – Tchernetska Natalie

Papyrology – Armstrong David

Textual Criticism – Battezzato Luigi

Commentaries – Graziosi Barbara

Psychoanalysis – Bowlby Rachel

Translation Studies – Lianeri Alexandra

Film Studies – Michelakis Pantelis

Reception – Leonard Miriam


End Matter

Name Index

Subject Index